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Leeds City Region – Investing in Low Carbon Heat

The Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has introduced a range of programmes to reduce carbon emissions, with the ambition for the region to be recognised as a global leader in taking action on climate change.

Leeds City Region – Low Carbon Heat

The LEP works together with public and private sector organisations to stimulate sustainable growth that will create jobs and prosperity for those who live, work and do business across the Leeds City Region. One of the key objectives for the organisation is to promote energy and resource efficiency. This is done through supporting businesses and residents to make improvements in their own operations, at the same time as developing a resilient and low cost local infrastructure.

Making the case for low carbon heat

In 2013 the LEP began investigating options to implement heat networks across the city region. This would not only provide a secure source of low carbon heat locally, but also create the opportunity to develop the region as a hub for heat network skills and expertise as part of a wider growth strategy.

The LEP recognised the crucial role that it could play in enabling collaborative action and facilitating knowledge sharing between the ten local authorities that make up the wider Leeds City Region.  The LEP sought collaborative support from these local authorities and secured funding from the Department of Energy and Climate Change through its Low Carbon Pioneer Cities Programme and Heat Networks Delivery Unit (HNDU).

The Carbon Trust was then appointed to project manage the development of six heat network opportunities, providing business model and implementation advice, stakeholder management,  technical and financial expertise.

District heating in the Leeds City Region will contribute towards both of the LEP’s resource efficiency objectives, as an integral part of a local energy infrastructure suitable for the twenty-first century, offering a low carbon heat supply to local businesses and residents.

Heat Networks

A heat network is a means of distributing heat from one or more energy centres through a network of pipes. Heat networks are recognised as playing a crucial role in decarbonising heat, improving energy security and reducing energy costs.

The provision of low carbon heat is a critical part of meeting the UK’s national carbon emissions reduction targets and contributing to wider international efforts on climate change as part of the COP21 Paris Agreement. Heat accounts for around a third of the country’s carbon emissions and almost half of the total energy demand.

Steps towards success

Since kicking off the programme in 2013, the LEP has already completed several steps in the journey towards the implementation of district heating schemes across the region:

  • In 2014, a comprehensive heat mapping study was conducted to identify clusters of heat demand, mapped against potential sites for heat supply, such as a combined heat and power (CHP) generator or energy from waste facility. This activity identified over 90 potential network opportunities of which 10 were prioritised for further feasibility analysis.
  • In June 2015, the Carbon Trust undertook a benefits analysis study to quantify the benefits and challenges of implementing district heating schemes in the region. This study allowed the LEP to quantify the wider impact of heat network implementation across the region, strengthening the business case and providing evidence for the local value that heat networks could deliver.
  • The third phase of work is currently ongoing, which will take the programme through a more detailed evaluation of project feasibility. Energy Masterplanning and techno-economic feasibility studies are currently being undertaken to ensure that the optimum technical conditions are determined for each network. This is crucial to ascertain the technical and financial viability of each opportunity.
  • The Carbon Trust is supporting the LEP with the delivery of six feasibility projects in York, Barnsley, Knottingley, Castleford, Wakefield City Centre and Wakefield City Fields. Other schemes being progressed at the same time are in Bradford City Centre Civic Quarter, Halifax Town Centre, Huddersfield Town Centre, and Leeds City Centre & Aire Valley.
  • The Carbon Trust has also designed a stakeholder management programme for each network opportunity, involving: the identification and classification of all stakeholders; the production of engagement strategies; and the coordination of engagement activities with potential customers, suppliers and influencers of the network. An important part of this support is the delivery of tailored planning policy advice, support with procurement and tender evaluations, financial modelling and workshops on risk and business models, which are helping prepare for the next stage of feasibility as implementation becomes closer.

Quantifying the impact

Once completed, the ten selected projects have the potential to save over 55,000 tonnes of carbon every year. They will generate nearly 400 GWh of heat and 165 GWh of electricity, allowing 1,100 businesses to connect to a low cost, low carbon energy supply. Given the potential for the heat networks to save around £2,300 for every gigawatt hour of energy supplied, the projects could deliver an average return on investment in seven years.


The future

The LEP will continue to work with the Carbon Trust and other partners to progress the development of heat networks across the region.

Alongside its district heat programme, the LEP is working on a number of other initiatives to assist in its transition to becoming a resource efficient region. These activities include:

  • The Better Homes programme that provides energy efficiency and heating improvements to local residents.
  • The Resource Efficiency Fund that will provide grant funding and support to small and medium-sized businesses.
  • The Energy Accelerator that will support low carbon local energy projects.
  • The BioVale Innovation Centre that will support development of bio-renewables.

All this work will make a material contribution towards creating a sustainable, low carbon region, at the same time as supporting growing businesses and developing a skilled and flexible workforce.

The approach the LEP and its partners are taking in developing heat networks in Leeds City Region is truly ground breaking and will ensure that a greater range of benefits will be delivered than if a single entity were working in isolation. The LEP’s strong performance in securing and delivering on large-scale projects is crucial to the ongoing success of the District Heat Programme and through this partnership, greater economies of scale are being achieved with resources going further. When these schemes are operational, we anticipate that they will save money for both our businesses and residents and help to alleviate fuel poverty, whilst making a significant contribution to further developing the Leeds City Region into a resource smart economy.

Paul Hamer, Chair of the Green Economy Panel, Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, and Chief Executive, White Young & Green

The Carbon Trust’s extensive industry knowledge of developing district energy networks contributed to a robust consultant selection process and their day-to-day management is ensuring more robust and less risky outputs are being delivered. Ultimately the Carbon Trusts’ services are contributing to making the realisation of operational district energy networks in the Leeds City Region more likely.’

Noel Collings, Senior Projects Officer, Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership

Download the Leeds City Region case study (PDF)

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